Making Solar Power Competitive with Coal?Sunrgi recently made an impressive claim at the National Energy Marketers Association’s 11th Annual Global Energy Forum in Washington, DC: They say that their system will soon be able to "produce electricity at a wholesale cost of 5 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour). [A] price competitive with the wholesale cost of producing electricity using fossil fuels and a fraction of the current cost of solar energy."
They do it with Xtreme Concentrated Photovoltaics (XCPV) by concentrating the Sun's light close to 2,000 times (!) into extremely efficient solar photovoltaic cells. Part of Sunrgi's patent-pending technology has to do with the cooling of the solar cells, dual-axis sun tracking, and the way the whole system is optimized for mass-production.
Not only are Sunrgi's solar power systems more efficient compared to regular PV, but they also take much less surface area for the same power output.
This chart compares the average output at different times of the year of XCPV, regular PV, and thin film solar. Of course, the results would be different at different geographical locations (this is for Daggett, California), but the trend is obvious.
SUNRGI's XCPV system tracks the sun as it moves across the sky from sunrise to sunset. Typical PV solar systems (such as those mounted on home rooftops) are fixed and do not track the sun. The performance difference between tracking systems and fixed systems is significant. In a day, SUNRGI's tracking system will capture and convert 175% more sunlight than a fixed system at the same advertised peak power rating.
The Future of Solar PowerNow of course, as with other promising solar innovations such as nanowire "hairy" solar panels, moth-eye biomimicry, and 24/7 solar power, the real question is "can they deliver?".
We'll have to wait and see, but with all the different branches of solar innovation coming to light (ah!) these days, we'd be surprised if none of them turned into a serious practical breakthrough. We've mentioned it often: The main goal is to make solar cost-competitive with fossil fuels so that there are no excuses even for the most ardent global warming deniers.
Solar Photovoltaic Power
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Solar Thermal Power
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More on Sunrgi's Xtreme Concentrated Photovoltaics
::Sunrgi Official Site
::New Solar Energy System Makes It Possible to Produce Wholesale Electricity at a Cost Competitive with Fossil Fuels
::Sunrgi To Solve Photovoltaics Cost Problem?
Update: If you are interested in solar power, also check out 15 Photovoltaics Solar Power Innovations You Must See.